January 2010 Archives

January 13, 2010

Unusual Foundation Funding: Who Knew That Playboy Funds Bunny Research?

Foundations can be narrow in their funding scope, it's true, but I recently came across a happy reminder that funding niches can be found in the most unexpected of places.

Audubon magazine's January/February 2010 issue reported on the discovery of a new subspecies of rabbit by researchers who'd been funded by a grant from Playboy Enterprises. They named it, appropriately enough, Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.

Before you start adding bunny projects to your slate of activities, take note that the grant has since run out, and the Playboy Foundation has turned its focus to supporting civil and reproductive rights. But who knows what other interesting matchups between corporate image and funding needs have since opened up?
January 8, 2010

Fundraising Successes Over the Holiday Season

Lest we think the news is all grim these days, here are reports of some nonprofits that have launched successful fundraising efforts despite the poor economy.

For example, the Salvation Army of Livingston County, Michigan reportedly brought in more than $180,000 in Red Kettle Campaign contributions over the holiday season, surpassing its 2008 total of $158,000. It took 900 volunteers working more than 1,150 hours, including bell ringers who stood out in the cold and snow for hours at a time, but they ended up overtaking even their own money-raising projections.

In Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the Needy Fund -- which collects money for local individuals residents to them pay for food, rent, mortgage payments, utility and heating bills, medical bills, and more -- is said to have surpassed its holiday fundraising goal of $625,000, having reached $665,611 by December 31st.

Up in Canada, the "Polar Bear Dip" (billed as Canada's Largest Charitable Polar Bear Festival, in which 600 participants this year jumped into icy cold Lake Ontario on New Year's Day) brought in a record $230,000 for charity. It will go toward third-world water projects.

Is there any common thread between these? To me it looks like basic people power. Even though many people these days have far less to give, a lot of them (or us) joining together to give of their time, or at least a little bit of money, can add up to a lot. And if there's a bright side to the recession, it may be that we're all developing more compassion for how quickly one's luck can change, and becoming more willing to help others who've gotten the worst of it.

Here's hoping for more good news in the new year!